Arbroath Signal Tower Museum
Located in the town of Arbroath, in the Angus region of Scotland, the Signal Tower stands as a historic monument at the harbour’s mouth. Construction of the Bell Rock Lighthouse and its associated buildings by Robert Stevenson was completed in 1813. The complex, including signal tower, sea wall, houses, storehouses, and other accommodation, acted as a shore station and light keepers’ living quarters up until 1955.
The Signal Tower consisted of an observatory with a five foot achromatic telescope, copper signal-ball and flagstaff. Thus, the Master of the Tender, manning the shore station, could send signals to the lighthouse on Bell Rock. Signals sent between the tower and lighthouse would indicate if all was well, or if there was an issue that required attention. The Master of the Tender was responsible for transporting the light keepers safely to and from the lighthouse, as well as ensuring that they had supplies, acting as their lifeline in emergencies.
The first Principal Lightkeeper was Mr John Reid, with Capt. David Taylor being assigned the role of the Master of the Tender. In 1955 the light keepers began to reside near Granton, until the lighthouse was automated in 1988. The Signal Tower was used as Council housing before being converted into a museum in the 1970s.
The Arbroath Signal Tower Museum houses a number of fascinating artefacts, photographs and other materials regarding Arbroath’s history. It provides insight into the Bell Rock Lighthouse, the lives of light keepers’ families and the Burgh’s fishing heritage. Highlights of the collection include the bronze warning bell from Bell Rock Lighthouse, the Bell Rock Lighthouse lens, a fascinating Book of Signals signed by Robert Stevenson, the Witches Eye, and china souvenirs collected by an Arbroath fisherman’s family.
Arbroath’s history is also linked to jute processing, thus visitors to the museum will find information and items related to Shanks, a lawnmower manufacturer from the town. Other photographs and documents relate to Giddings + Lewis-Fraser and Keith & Blackman, world famous companies from Arbroath.
The Arbroath Signal Tower Museum is open from Monday to Saturday, 10:00 to 17:00 throughout the year, and Sundays from 14:00 to 17:00 in July and August. Admission is free to all.